Her, Gravity and The Great Gatsby were the big winners on the film side at tonight’s ADG Awards at the Beverly Hilton. “I didn’t know if we were making a fantasy or a period film in the future,” Her production designer K.K. Barrett in accepting the award. “Spike Jonze told me, ‘Who are we to question what anybody else feels is real.’” Looking around the room, I believe in all your realities.”
Related: WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards
Said production designer Andy Nicholson from the podium: “Gravity was an incredibly long and tough journey for my crew. None of this would’ve been possible without the artistic vision of Alfonso Cuaron.”
Martin Scorsese scored points in the room as he accepted the guild’s prestigious Cinematic Imagery Award, presented by his Wolf Of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. “How does one even separate cinema from PD? You can’t,” he said. “We have images in our mind, pictures in our head, but yours are the ones I look to to get those images on the screen. You’ve never let me down. This [award] is for you.”
HBO cleaned up on the TV side, with Game Of Thrones, Behind The Candelabra and Veep all picking up trophies during the 18th annual Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Awards. The show was hosted by Owen Benjamin, a comic and regular on the TBS comedy Sullivan & Son.
Here is the complete list of winners. Read on for the recap of our live blog.
Related: ‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
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While Hollywood continues figuring out how to do business in China, and execs remain cautious, there is a sense that 2013 was a tipping point in the complex relationship between the world’s two box office leaders. As Hollywood’s focus turns to maximizing global grosses, the town is increasingly looking for ways to cozy up to the territory that adds 10 theaters a day to service its 1.3B+ population. And China is also strongly courting Hollywood. In September, Wanda’s Wang Jianlin unveiled ambitious plans to bring the industry closer to the Mainland and emphasized China’s place at the center of the global biz, urging players to cooperate for a piece of the pie. Then, at November’s U.S./China Film Summit in L.A., China Film Co-Production Company’s Zhang Xun offered, “We have a huge market and we want to share it with you.” Here’s a look at some of the key happenings in China in 2013 and a taste of what to look out for in the coming year:
Related: China’s Wanda & Hollywood: How Much Is Real? How Much Is Real Estate?
China Box Office Hits $3B+: Hollywood Improves While Local Films Dominate; What Does End Of 2013 Hold In Store?
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Walt Disney’s only biological child died today at her home in Napa, CA, of complications from a fall in September. Diane Disney Miller was 79. She was a driving force behind the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. Her husband of nearly 60 years, Ron W. Miller, is a former CEO of Walt Disney Productions. Here’s a statement on her passing from Disney president and CEO Bob Iger: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during his difficult time. As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”
The basic numbers look fine but investors may find reasons to be concerned by Disney‘s unusually complicated report for a quarter that included a writedown for The Lone Ranger and an accounting adjustment that reduced ESPN revenues. The company reported net income of $1.54B, +11.0% vs the period last year, on revenue of $11.57B, +7.3%. The top line beat the Street’s forecast for $11.4B. Earnings at 77 cents a share were a penny ahead of expectations. The company’s cable networks reported a 1% increase in revenues to $3.57B with operating income -7% to $1.28B. But that includes a $172M reduction in deferred ESPN affiliate fee revenues. Take that out, and operating income would have been up $77M, the company says. At ABC broadcasting revenues were +2% to $1.37B with operating income -18% to $158M. The problems included higher costs for primetime programming as the company replaced news and reality fare with scripted shows. In addition it had tough comparisons with last year when ABC syndicated Castle and Wipeout and broadcast the Emmy Awards. Disney’s theme parks had cheerier news with revenues +8% to $$3.72B and operating income +15% to $571M. Consumer spending was up at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, but costs were up with the introduction of the MyMagic+ technology which helps guests avoid long lines. At the studio, revenues were +7% to $1.51B with operating income +35% to $108M helped by Monsters University — … Read More »
Shanghai’s financial district may soon be better known as the city’s entertainment hub. Robert De Niro and his partners are working on a massive cultural development there while Bruno Wu’s Pinewood Chinawood studio base is also due to be housed in the waterfront Bund area. Today, The Walt Disney Company China said it will open “the world’s largest Disney Store” in Lujiazui, part of the financial district on the east side of Huangpu River in the Pudong area. The store itself will be a 10,800-square-foot space housed on a 53,000 square-foot site that will also host family entertainment events. Disney is building its first mainland China theme park, Shanghai Disneyland, as the the centerpiece of its Shanghai Disney Resort which is targeted to open in Pudong at the end of 2015. Disney said today that the store, which is to open in early 2015, will be “an important site where fans can track the progress of Shanghai Disney Resort.”
Related: Iron Man To The Rescue At Hong Kong Disneyland
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The View is heading to the Magical Kingdom for the November sweep, in hopes of widening its lead over CBS’ The Talk. Mickey Mouse himself made the announcement this morning on The View which is a program of Disney-owned ABC. It’s the first time The View has had to go to Disneyland – the place ABC shows go to goose their ratings. The daytime talker will broadcast live from Disneyland to coincide with Mickey Mouse’s 85th birthday on November 18. ABC’s late night star Jimmy Kimmel, who’s been getting lots of attention these days as he ratchets up to take on new Tonight show competition this season, with fake YouTube Failed-Twerk videos, verbal brawls/hug-it-outs with Kanye West, etc , will be the lead guest of The Ladies of The View for that Disneyland week, appearing on Mickey’s birthday. Read More »
Hong Kong Disneyland’s ticket counter hasn’t exactly been the happiest place on Earth since the park opened in 2005. But Disney is reaching into its $4B bag of Marvel tricks in an effort to juice attendance: An Iron Man-themed thrill ride, shopping area and photo pavilion will open at HK Dis –which turned it meager first profit this year — in late 2016, The New York Times reports. Inspired by the $121M success of Iron Man 3 in China this year, it will be Disney’s first ride based on a Marvel property since it acquired the company in 2009. “It’s important for us to have a story for our Hong Kong guests, a little bit of bragging rights that they have something that nobody else has,” said Bill Ernest, the president of Disney’s theme parks in Asia, told the Times. The attraction will arrive more than a year after the planned opening of Disney’s multibillion-dollar park in Shanghai, its first on the Chinese mainland, and the company is counting on both parks thriving to achieve its corporate goals in the country.
Related: Iger: Behind-The-Scenes Of Disney In China
Controversy put Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow on the radar at Sundance, where critics predicted that the fictional drama filmed without permission at Disney World would have to get past a courtroom before it reached theaters. As Escape nears its October multi-platform release, it has been deafening silence from Disney; not even Jiminy Cricket is chirping. That is the worst thing that could happen to a film where the venue is the only recognizable thing in a feature made on the cheap with no stars. Escape earned early notoriety for its subversive shoot after the filmmakers got The New York Times to flog a brewing David Vs. Goliath battle at Sundance. Turns out that newspaper was simply slinging hype and reflecting wishful thinking from the film’s backers. Disney doesn’t seem to care and the film is left to fly or die by its merits. At this weekend’s genre-heavy Fantastic Fest, where movie geeks gobble up subversive films, the pic screened with a whimper.
Related: ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Gets Fall Release
Cinetic sales rep John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the picture after it went unbought at Sundance, tells me some interested buyers were wary of crossing Disney when the film first screened. Sloss said he had offers, but Deadline has heard they were smallish and that Disney’s ire wasn’t the big factor. Getting a rise out of a corporation can be the best thing that can happen to a small film; earlier this year, the documentary Blackfish got on the map after its subject, Sea World, publicly griped about the characterization of multiple deaths involving its killer whales. Disney hasn’t made a peep, robbing Escape From Tomorrow of a lot of free publicity. Read More »
Disney shares just shot up close to 3% after CFO Jay Rasulo announced the plan at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “We intend to significantly increase our buyback next year probably in the $6B-to-$8B range,” he says. The company can do that without jeopardizing its single A bond rating, Rasulo adds, although it might have to borrow some cash toward the end of its share repurchase. The company can spend because, following big investments in its theme parks and programming, “we’ll see an increase in cash flow.” The announcement follows a four-month period when Disney shares have been in a holding pattern. The price hit an all-time high of $67.89 in mid-May, and have slipped nearly 6% since then. ”Investors have been concerned about ESPN’s weak ratings (down 32% in Q2) in light of a period of stasis in both affiliate fees and sports rights,” Macquarie analyst Tim Nollen noted in a report yesterday. Rasulo says that ESPN and other properties are still strong, and can grow. Following the announced plan to write down as much as $190M for The Lone Ranger, Disney has “learned that there needs to be a cap on tent pole, non-franchise (spending) that doesn’t quite put as much as risk,” he says. The studio has “found our stride in a slate that looks like two Marvel films a year, Star Wars, one Disney animation, one or two … Read More »
Randy Moore’s buzzy Sundance thriller was shot in secret in Disney parks with a distinctly non-Disneyfied tale of dread and paranoia in the happiest place on Earth. The distribution trifecta of Producers Distribution Agency (PDA), Abramorama, and FilmBuff will release Escape From Tomorrow in theaters on October 11 as well as on VOD and digital platforms, although nobody’s yet talking about how the pic’s skirting Disney’s legal muscle. Check out the first trailer:
Related: Film Shot Secretly At Disneyland Gets Fall Release
The man who put the Rolling Stones back on the road and Spider-Man on Broadway is now going to bring Marvel’s costumed characters to life in a town near you. In a partnership between Marvel and live entertainment producer Hero Ventures, former Live Nation chairman and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark producer Michael Cohl will produce the Marvel Experience. Described as a “first-person superhero adventure” and set to debut next year, the $30 million themed production will feature dozens of Marvel characters combined with multimedia technology, original 3D animated movies and a 4D motion ride, all in a traveling dome complex the size of two football fields. The plan is to bring the Marvel Experience to two dozen cities around the US in 2014 with weeklong stays in each. “Hero Ventures is developing a themed entertainment concept that we expect will be a transformative, traveling destination that will deliver to fans and families an exciting, groundbreaking and unique experience,” said Sean Haran, Marvel’s VP Business Development, in a statement Wednesday. Spider-Man co-producer and veteran stage and touring Jeremiah Harris also will produce the Experience along and Hero Ventures’ Jason Rosen a former Sony Pictures exec. Hero Ventures was founded in June 2012 by former Gersh player agent Doug Schaer and sports lawyer Rick Licht.
Related: Vin Diesel In Talks To Join ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’
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Distribution prospects looked dire for Randy Moore’s Sundance sensation Escape From Tomorrow, the provocative film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland and Disney World depicting one man’s descent into madness in the happiest place on Earth. But Producers Distribution Agency (PDA) announced today they’ll release the film this fall in theaters and on VOD in partnership with Abramorama and FilmBuff. The film follows a middle-aged American husband and father of two who loses his job, but keeps up appearances as he takes his brood on vacation. There he becomes obsessed with a pair of French teenage girls as paranoid visions and bizarre encounters mark the unraveling of his idyllic family outing. Disney had no part in the film and did not give Moore or his crew consent to film in its parks. Yet iconic Disney amusements like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, a Main Street parade and Epcot Center figure into the narrative, sparking media debate over whether or not the film would ever see the light of day. Read More »
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s D23 coverage.
Disney’s live action panel today at D23 started off with Alan Horn being heckled by disappointed Star Wars fans and pretty much turned into a clipfest afterwards. Only a surprise appearance by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie at the Anaheim event raised the temperature anywhere near Friday’s news filled Animation panel. The newest jewel in Disney’s crown, Star Wars was dealt with by the studio boss with a list of old announcements of approximate release dates, JJ Abrams being on board and spinoff films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” Horn told the crowd as a big “awww” and boos emanated from around the convention center from fans expecting a bone to be thrown their way today.
Related: D23: Disney Announces New Animated Movies and Big Voice Castings, Offers Details On ‘Finding Nemo’ & ‘Planes’ Sequels
That was in sharp contrast to Jolie’s sudden walk-on later in the two-hour panel. Then it was cheers not jeers. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” said Jolie about playing in the upcoming backstory to the Sleeping Beauty character. “When I heard Disney was making the film, my brother encouraged me to take the role.” Jolie’s appearance in front of the audience of 7,500, came after Walt Disney live action production head Sean Bailey spoke about casting her for Maleficent. “You can pencil out a list of all the amazing actresses in the world and for us this list only had one name for the role, Angelina Jolie,” exclaimed Bailey over as sketches from the film played on the big screen. After Jolie’s brief turn on stage, Bailey showed the audience exclusive footage from Maleficent. In the clip, Jolie’s British-accented wicked Queen appeared amidst CGI fairies and green steam rising to curse the baby Sleeping Beauty. “Without a doubt, Maleficent will be a powerful movie experience when it comes to theaters next summer,” Bailey told the crowd. Maleficent is set to be release on July 2, 2014.
Related: Comic-Con: Marvel Announces ‘Avengers 2’ Villain & Title: ‘Age Of Ultron’
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Twenty-seven writers including John Gatins, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were named finalists in nine categories for the 39th annual Humanitas Prize. The writers will compete for $95,000 in prize money to be handed out at the annual luncheon September 20 at the Montage Beverly Hills. The Humanitas Prize was created to honor TV and film writers for telling stories, which “truly and deeply explore the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens,” the org says. Of the finalists, executive director Cathleen Young said, “These gifted storytellers made us laugh and cry and ultimately, brought us closer together as a family by deeply exploring what it means to be human!” Click over for the full list of nominees: Read More »
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson star in Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks which goes out in limited release on December 13. It’s based on the true story of how Mary Poppins made it to the screen — and the testy relationship that Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it. Per Time, here’s the first picture of Hanks as Disney and Thompson as Travers on a walk through Disneyland in 1961:
Universal Studios Hollywood is eyeing wealthier patrons’ pocketbooks as the summer swings into season. A new $299 per-person VIP ticketing option gets you into the park for a day with valet parking, continental breakfast, an unlimited front of line pass, catered gourmet lunch, and a seat on a cozy 16-person trolley. The VIP Experience, which one Uni rep likens to flying first class, also takes guests behind the scenes on the Universal backlot to sets of shows like NBC’s Parenthood and ABC’s Desperate Housewives Wisteria Lane street. Children under 5 years aren’t allowed, but Universal’s come up with a solution for families with the cash to spend: You can rent the entire trolley exclusively for a day for 16 people at $299 a pop, or just under $5K total. Disneyland, meanwhile, recently raised its prices for single-day and annual tickets.
Walt Disney Co chief Bob Iger was one of the panelists at Thursday’s Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China, discussing the interaction between culture and economics and brands in the future development of China:
I think there’s a misconception that exists in the world, because technology and development overall has created access to markets, to territories, to countries that is unprecedented, meaning we’ve never seen it before, that maybe the world is gradually becoming kind of a one world culture. And I think that’s absolutely not the case.
I think you can really trip a company up if they start believing that, because the pride that geographies or countries, or markets have for their own culture, and the desire to own and control it still is quite existent, whether it’s for political reasons, economic reasons, or just nationalistic reasons.
And so if you are a global brand like Disney, and we’re different from a brand perspective because we’re not a consumable, really, even though people consume our products, they buy our product. We’re much ore of an experience brand, whether you’re watching a movie, watching a television show, certainly going to a theme park. And I think because we are an experience brand, we touch culture in a very different way than a typical luxury brand might.
And when that happens I think you have to be very careful. You have to have a very deft hand, because on one hand the Disney brand and what it stands for is of interest to the culture and to the people in the culture. Disney, that’s certainly the case we’re an optimistic brand or an inclusive brand. We’re a brand that is viewed as good for me and good for my family. There are values to the Disney brand and what it stands for that have interested people all over the world. But, it’s very, very important that while we bring Disney to a market we make sure that in that market it feels like, for instance, China’s Disney. It can’t just be the Disney that exists in carbon copy form somewhere else in the world.
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Your wallet will feel a little lighter than you might have expected next time you visit Disney‘s theme parks in California or Florida. Yesterday the company raised the prices for single-day and annual tickets — something it typically does each year. It now costs $92 (+5.7%) for those over 10 to enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, and parking costs $16 (+6.7%). If you want to visit both parks then it will cost $137 (+9.6%). An annual ticket usable almost any day runs $669 (+3.1%). And it takes $95 (+6.7%) to experience the Magic Kingdom at Orlando’s Walt Disney World. The increase there comes about two weeks after Universal Orlando raised its one-day price to $92 (+3.4%) for either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, or $128 (+3.2%) for both. Disney Premier Passport — which offers anytime admission to any of its parks in California or Florida — now costs $979 (+15.3%). “Like any business, we evaluate and adjust our pricing based on a variety of factors,” says Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius. “A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our Cast.” Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne says that recent increases in attendance “helped alleviate investor skepticism” about the company’s ability to increase profit margins at its parks.
The Disney parks PR folks are having a rotten week. The day after a small dry-ice bomb exploded at Disneyland in Anaheim, a woman and her grandson found a loaded pistol on the Dinosaur ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Grandma turned the Cobra .380 automatic over to park authorities, who called Orange County Sheriffs. When deputies found its owner, 44-year-old Angelo Lista, in the park, he told them he realized the gun was missing several minutes after he’d left the ride. Lista — who has a concealed-weapon permit — said he didn’t realize that Disney doesn’t allow park visitors to pack heat, assuming that the checkpoint patrons go through before entry is merely to check bags for weapons and explosives. He later told deputies that the piece “just slipped out” of his pocket “as a result of the ride being extremely bumpy”.
Related: UPDATE: Disneyland Employee Arrested In Toontown Explosion